I’m Kristina - freelance graphic designer, backyard farmer, cookbook reader, project starter, and new mom to a gorgeous little boy.

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Archive for April, 2011

April 27, 2011

A list of words

It’s amazing when the language thing starts to click, isn’t it? I’ve yet to find a baby book that I like and I’m terrible about writing things down, so I’ve been trying to remember all of Dashiell’s little words. But he seems to be adding new ones every week and I’m having trouble remembering them already!

If you’ll indulge me for a moment, I’m going to record them here. At least the internet will know so when I finally get a baby book I can write them in it.

At about a year he had 4 words. I remember that.

‘nana (banana)
Yaya (our nanny Gloria)
Plus a few baby sign which he still uses: more, enough, hungry, tired and milk.

And now he has these too:
wawa (water)
wuh-wuh! (his word for dog, which is really like him saying, ruff ruff!)
baba (bottle)
ohm (home)
at (hat)
gamma (grandma)
umpa (grandpa)

And he’ll basically repeat anything you try to teach him if he’s in the right mood. It’s so neat. Brock came back from running with him this morning and said that he’s trying to say “truck” (because obviously he’s obsessed with large trucks since he’s a boy). He says “uck”. But close enough! And he occasionally says “unda” for his BlaBla panda. (They have some really cute new stuff, btw.) It’s really pretty amazing how their little minds work.

We’re waiting for him to come up with a name for “froggy“, his most prized, precious possession. Maybe it’s like soooo important it doesn’t need an actual name.

April 26, 2011

What to do in Seaside, FL

Dearests, you always have such good ideas when I ask that I’m now unable to travel without first soliciting your opinions! Have any of you been to Seaside, Florida? (or Watercolor or Seagrove?) We’re headed there on Thursday morning for my friend Deja’s wedding. It looks so cute! But we know nothing about that part of Florida. Maybe some of you do?

I know that we’re planning to let Dashiell run around naked on the white sand beach, perhaps play tennis at the Watercolor Inn, and spend some time drinking beer with friends.

Any other must-dos? Hoping someone has been!

April 25, 2011

Twice-baked shortbread

Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert is undoubtably my go-to cookbook for baking. I don’t bake *that* often so when I do, it’s usually for special occasion. (Or I’m making Jacques Torres choco chip cookies, for everyday consumption). Which means I always turn to Alice and her lovely, subtle way with all things sweet.

I made her twice baked shortbread for a little 100LC project this weekend and not surprisingly, it was delicious. The recipe is so simple that I had to read it three times just to make sure I wasn’t missing something major. And you don’t have to get out the stand mixer or anything. A bowl and a spoon will do just fine.

Alice Medrich’s twice-baked shortbread

12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted and still warm
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (6.75 ounces if you’re weighing) all purpose flour

plus turbinado or demerara sugar for sprinkling

And a baking pan with a removable bottom, like a round or rectangular fluted tart pan. If you don’t have a tart pan, you can line a regular square pan with a sheet of foil so you can lift the finished shortbread out in one piece.

In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter with the sugar, vanilla and salt. Add the flour and mix until just incorporated. It will be really really buttery! Pat and spread the dough evenly in the pan. Let rest for at least 2 hours, or if possibly overnight. (No need to refridgerate).

Preheat oven to 300°F. Bake shortbread for 45 minutes. If you have a cute stove from the 50′s that doesn’t regulate temperature very well and burns everything you attempt to bake like I do, I highly recommend setting a piece of foil over the top of the pan until the last few minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven, leaving the oven on. Lightly sprinkle the surface of the shortbread with sugar. Let it cool for 10 minutes.

Remove the shortbread from the pan (v. v. carefully!). Use a thin sharp knife to cut wedges or fingers or squares. Place the pieces slightly apart on a parchment lined baking sheet and put it back in the oven for 10 minutes, until it’s golden brown.

Cool on a rack.

And then try to eat just one piece. It melts like crazy in your mouth.

April 22, 2011

a load of tea towels

I was doing some snooping around yesterday for an InStyle article for 100LC and got lost in the tea towel selection on etsy. There were so many pretty ones, I had to share.

From Skinny Laminx, Leah Duncan (love her stuff!!!!), Claudia Pearson, Knife in the Water, Margot Bianca, Katherine J. Lee, Frog Goes to Market, Giardino, and the sold out Lotta Jansdotter. Hrrrmmphf.

Have a sunny weekend!

April 21, 2011

Mexican paper flowers

There’s a quick tutorial up on 100LC today for those of you interested in making Mexican paper flowers. They’re so easy and so fun and festive! I’m making a bunch for SIL’s baby shower in June.

Apologies for the lack of posts this week. My plan to unplug a bit and not have insomnia by not spending the last 2-3 hours of my day staring at the computer screen has meant that I occasionally (often, apparently) don’t have anything to post in the morning! You understand, right? I’m trying to figure it all out. Also I have an eye twitch at the moment, which means I’m even less inclined to stare at the computer any more than necessary. Hoping to get outside this afternoon and plant. I majorly need a break from pixels.

April 18, 2011

Backyard chickens, take two

Take three, if you count the set we fostered in the fall. But these are officially ours, as of last Wednesday when they arrived.

Meghan and Jeremy, the super sweet couple who runs Dare 2 Dream Farms, delivered them right into the Eglu. Anyone on the search for a little flock of their own in the LA or SF area should definitely contact them! They have all sorts of breeds, in every age… two weeks, six weeks, eight weeks, twelve weeks (ours), on up through six months or so. It’s incredibly perfect, having someone else raise the peepers until they’re ready for the outdoor coop.

I can’t wait to start with teeny chicks one day when our kiddos are older, but at the moment I don’t think our tiny house can handle a baby chicken nursery too.

Guess who’s completely obsessed with his new friends out back?

If it were up to him he’d spend equal parts of the day gazing longingly at his chickens and eating dirt out of the raised beds. Do all babies insist on eating dirt??

Baby legs!

April 15, 2011

Spring and wisteria

Part of me loves spring (longer days! birds chirping! trees blooming!), and part of me despises it because it’s just a big tease with it’s wind and sun and non-summerness. But I always adore our blooming wisteria.

The peak of flowers a few weeks ago:

Growing like crazy now (both the baby and the wisteria):

The pretty detritus:

We’re getting the backyard, and house for that matter, in shape for summer. I guess spring is good for something.

I’ll report back on that soon. Have a fine weekend, all!

April 14, 2011

homemade vanilla extract

Yesterday’s post was so satisfying for me. I woke up wondering if I’d published something completely lame and whiny (the blogging equivalent of drunk dialing, maybe?), but it turns out lots of you can relate. Which is awesome. And maybe just by putting it out there things will begin to simplify. Maybe.

Now. Onto something totally different.

Homemade vanilla extract!

I’ve been meaning to start my own since January when I saw a big jar in my neighbor Ruth’s kitchen. (Enter the reality I mentioned yesterday… things don’t always happen as I intend around these parts.) Once she told me how to make it, I was like, um, DUH! Why doesn’t everyone do this??? It reminds me of the Homemade Pantry section on Kiss My Spatula. Which is without a doubt something you should all check out and is IMO completely worthy of aspiration.

It’s a bit of a cost commitment up front, but you won’t have to buy vanilla for a very long time. And once it’s all done brewing you can apparently jar it up and give it away as gifts. Hello xmas pressies!

What you need for a jar this size:

A big jar with a sealing lid (preferably tall enough to accommodate vanilla beans)
7 cups vodka
21 vanilla beans

(the ratio of beans to vodka is 6 beans for every 2 cups of vodka).

The only reason I chose the above amount is because I needed 7 cups of vodka to cover the vanilla beans. I’m sure you could make this in whatever size batch you like, if you cut up the beans into smaller pieces. I think choosing good quality vanilla beans and good quality vodka probably equals good quality vanilla extract, but use your judgement there. My beans are from Penzeys (a Christmas gift from my friend Carol) and I used Absolut vodka (not top top shelf, but good enough I figured).

Put the beans in the jar. Add vodka. Seal. Wait two months or so and try it! If you need to add more vodka during the extraction process, do it. Maybe throw another bean in there for good measure. Supposedly once you have it started, you can add more vodka and beans as you use your stock to keep it going for a long time.

Vanilla beans are expensive, but they are less so if you buy them in bulk. Here are some good places to buy them:


Most importantly, definitely do not buy them at the grocery store! It will cost a fortune.

I’ll report back when my vanilla is fully extracted.

**UPDATE! Brent from emailed with their official ratio for FDA quality single-fold vanilla extract. 5 beans for every 1 cup of vodka (or maybe bourbon! I like where you guys are going with that). Which significantly increases your start up costs, but maybe the vanilla is way more amazing? Just thought I’d share.

April 13, 2011

something helpful

Last night, whilst scanning the internet for pretty things and good ideas and recipes and other people’s lives and blablablablah, I came across the blog Small Notebook. Do any of you read it? Somehow I’ve missed it in all these years of interneting. I’m not exactly sure what it was, but it sort of stopped me in my tracks.

It’s so, I don’t know, helpful.

It’s the opposite of most other blogs I read (as my brother calls them, the “I’m so awesome” blogs… of which mine is not an exception). You know, where people post all the nice, pretty things going on in their perfectly styled, always delicious, very fashionable lives. I love those blogs, I do. But sometimes they just seem so unfairly aspirational. I find myself thinking that everyone else’s life is clearly more together than my own, that they have nicer houses, newer shoes, better taste, etc etc etc. Which is pretty obviously my issue, not theirs. But it was so refreshing to find a blog that just talked about little parts of life that everyone goes through that are not pretty and styled and decorated. And that might in some way help people who read it to similarly simplify their lives. To maybe give people permission to, like, clean out their closet and only wear the few things they love over and over again. How to focus your hobbies and let go of the ones you don’t need (probably not going to happen for me, being the compulsive projecter and hobbiest that I am, but I love the idea), and gulp, how to quit caffeine. Plus lots lots more.

Have you noticed a recurring theme of late? Maybe it’s just in my mind and not on my blog. I’m desperate to simplify our life. I really am. I have a constant nagging feeling that I just want less stuff! But the next moment I’ll find myself madly adding things to my cart on JCrew’s final sale because I get an EXTRA 20% OFF my purchase and I desperately need new clothes that are in style. Gaaahhhhd.

So see when I found Small Notebook, it was like… oh. See, there. Maybe it is possible. Maybe there is life beyond Pintrest and spring fashion. I actually got a little teary thinking about it. And I haven’t even begun to really read through her archives, but I do love the ideas I’ve come upon so far.

I think I should start by NOT ending my day on the computer. There’s only one thing that comes from it and it’s a restless night of sleep. I don’t need to cataloging the internet in my mind when I should be sleeping and I most certainly do not need to miss out on any more sleep. So maybe I will start there and see how it goes. And have a giant garage sale, soon.

And for the record, because I get a fair share of emails and comments asking how I find the time to do it all… here’s a little secret. I don’t. I just only take pictures of the things in my life that are pretty and possibly interesting to other people. But there is plenty that goes undone, plenty of I wishes and if onlys. Maybe I will start to write about that stuff more, just to be fair.

You know what I’m sayin’? Something to think about at least.

April 12, 2011

gorgeous food photo wall

Love this mix of photos from Heidi Swanson‘s interview on design*sponge. It’s such a pretty mix of food and place.

Wouldn’t a big wall of framed photos be amazing in the kitchen? I really need to get my hands on her new book.